We Now Know The Story Behind Banjo-Kazooie's Name

The classic N64 game was apparently named after the children of a former Nintendo president.


What's in a name, exactly? For Rare, the studio behind many beloved Nintendo games in the '90s, it’s apparently a joke or two. According to Andy Robinson, a former member of the team that worked on Yooka-Laylee, the names Banjo and Kazooie were inspired by legendary Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi's offspring, particularly his grandson Banjo and his son Katsuhito.

Gregg Mayles, the game director on Banjo-Kazooie, has confirmed that the real-life Banjo did serve as the bumbling bear's namesake, though he's less sure about Kazooie. In the opening of the actual game, of course, both Banjo and Kazooie play the instruments that correspond to their names. Though the bird-and-bear haven't seen their own game since 2008's Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, they did make an appearance in Super Smash Bros: Ultimate.

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While Rare is well-known for its Nintendo output, Microsoft has owned the studio since 2002. Recently, Rare announced that it's working on an ambitious new project titled Everwild.

Best-known as the president that saw Nintendo's gradual evolution from a regional toy company into an industry-defining juggernaut, Yamauchi served as the head of the company for 53 years, stepping down in mid-2002. When Yamauchi passed away in 2013, Banjo and Katsuhi Yamauchi inherited their relative’s vast Nintendo stock, which they later sold back to the company for more than $1 billion.

While only the notoriously press-shy Stamper brothers--who formerly headed Rare--would be able to fully verify this anecdote, it's far from the only time that the studio has had a little fun with their titles. After all, they did give us Grabbed by the Ghoulies. (If you don’t know what "goolies" are in UK slang, consult Urban Dictionary at your own peril.)

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